SG launches new strategy to fight Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Thursday, 09 March 2017

Global | Secretary-General

The Secretary-General today launched his report on Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: A new approach, which sets out his new strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. 

As the Secretary-General said in his video message  “the vast majority of UN personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice.   Yet our Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it. We need a new approach.” 

The Secretary General’s strategy makes recommendations on four main areas: putting the rights and dignity of victims first; ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses; drawing on the knowledge and wisdom of external partners such as civil society, local communities and experts; and, raising awareness and sharing best practices.

New mechanisms will be set in place to enforce the policy of whistle-blowers and protect staff who report cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. Senior leadership will be instructed, system-wide, to issue management letters to their governing bodies certifying that all allegations have been reported and appropriate action is taken on them. Screening mechanisms prior to recruitment or upon extension of contracts will be strengthened and a system will be established to ensure that individuals terminated from service in one part of the UN system due to substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, will not be hired in any other part of the UN system.

All individuals assigned to UN field based activities will be required to carry the “no excuses’ pocket card that restates our rules and spell out how to report allegations. A new annual written attestation will be developed for every staff member to confirm that they have read and understood United Nations’ code of conduct and the consequences of failing to abide by it. Training on sexual exploitation and abuse will become mandatory for all categories of personnel, system-wide.

Finally, as revealed by the data contained in his report, nearly all victims of sexual exploitation and abuse are women and girls. The Secretary-General is convinced that increasing the number of women throughout UN activities, including service as uniformed peacekeepers, would help advance the UN efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse – which is deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination. The UN must, moreover, do more to promote   women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to deliver on these goals together. “Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals.”

For the full message of the Secretary-General please see the videos below: